First Day School Annual Report 2020/2021:
The past year threw First Day School quite the curveball! To keep us safe during the pandemic, First Day School has been virtual since March 2020. At first, we joined the regular virtual children's religious education offerings of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's wonderful Melinda Wenner-Bradley. Our kids could join in with Meetings across the region to learn and grow together. Then we felt ready to offer monthly First Day School for Third Haven families that featured Faith & Play stories and sharing with Susan Claggett. This regular drumbeat of monthly gatherings was critically important to us keep us in community through a difficult year.
We had intended to offer our 2020 summer camps, but decided that conditions were not safe enough to proceed. Instead, we encouraged our families to make use of the grounds for walking and exploring, to maintain our connection to the beauty and peace found there. A year later, we are excited to report that the 2021 summer camp is moving ahead—planned for the week of July 26, with registrations already half full.
In lieu of our usual fall open house for families, we instead hosted a Virtual Pizza Party. Susan delivered pizza and cookies to all Third Haven families and then we met together to have our meal together on Zoom. We played games—including a scavenger hunt—and shared our experiences of online schooling, time at home, fears and needs.
At Christmastime, the kids joined the Meeting to say hello and share holiday greetings at the rise of Meeting, many dressed as they would for our annual Christmas pageant (angels, animals of the manger, wise men, etc.). Amy and her family delivered a round of care packages for the kids filled with goodies to bake and make, as well as cards to send to Meeting members who we thought might enjoy a little extra love.
By Easter, we were thrilled to join carefully together in-person for our annual egg hunt. Thanks to the hard work of volunteer Easter bunnies in the Meeting, the kids were overjoyed to run the grounds again, this time in search of treat-filled eggs.
As spring dawned, families again gathered to renew the children's gardens, stock the mud kitchen, and plant the new peace garden. Molly brought cookies to fuel the digging and planting, which were met with great enthusiasm by kids and parents alike.
To close the year, First Day School will hold our first Sunday lesson on June 13 in person - focused on an outdoor meditative walk and journaling. This is in lead-up to Moving Up Day honoring of several Third Haven kids who are graduating: Max McCall, Zadoc Bond, and Beckett Ehrsam from high school; Ember Theeke from middle school; and Juliette Neil from college.
We thank the Meeting for all the love and support for the youngest members and attenders. Your attention and intention are felt, and makes a world of difference.